All posts by Brotherhood

Spiritual Tragedy or Masterpiece?

A Spiritual Tragedy…or A Spiritual Masterpiece?

Sometimes the Ladder of Life can seem too high to climb…

Think for a moment of the beginning of your most passionate ambition…
Remember the drive, the energy, and the focus that we all once had…
Have we all come to a place of apathy?
A place of mediocrity and complacency?
Our passion has been worn down by bitterness, opposition, and hatred.
Read the following words by James Stewart and reflect upon them and how they apply to our own lives today. They struck a chord with me so much so that I felt compelled to share:

“Surely, there are few figures so pitiable as the disillusioned minister of the Gospel. High hopes that once cheered him on his way but…

now the indifference and the recalcitrance of the world..

the lack of striking visible results…

The discovery of appalling pettiness, spite, and touchiness and the complacency which can lodge in narrow hearts…

The feeling of personal futility…

Al these have seared his soul!

No longer does the zeal of God’s house devour him…
No longer does he mount the pulpit steps in thrilled expectancy that Jesus Christ will come amongst His folk that day traveling in the greatness of His strength: Mighty to Save!

Dully and drearily, he speaks now about what once seemed to him the most dramatic tidings in the world…
The edge, the verve, and the passion of the message of divine forgiveness…
The exultant, lyrical assurance of the presence of the risen Lord…
The amazement of supernatural grace…
The urge to cry: “Woe is me if I preach not the Gospel!”

All has suddenly gone…
The man has lost heart…
He is disillusioned and that for an ambassador of Christ is tragedy”

(James Stewart from the book Heralds of God).

The power and passion of these words sink deep within my very being this morning.
I think upon how great my love once was for God, for family, and for the fire service.
And yet even though my discipline has not waned by desire and passion seemed have become dull.
I feel the pain of this world yet it no longer hurts…
I am appalled by the lack of compassion yet I shed no tears…
I am shocked by those who call themselves followers of Christ yet they write their own Bible but my prayers for them have become indifferent…
I am touched to the very heart of my soul as I drove my daughter to school this Thanksgiving morning and saw the joy in her eyes and the disillusionment in mine…
I read the words of Jeremiah and I feel God’s power, mercy and grace as He said:

“Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you.” Declares the Lord. Then the Lord reached out His hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “I have put my words in your mouth” (Jeremiah 1:8-9).

Jeremiah served God for 40 years with the very word of God upon his lips yet the world did not listen. When he spoke no-one listened. Does this sound familiar to you? For myself, I have found my passion dying because I too as James Stewart said felt dread because of “lack of striking visible results.”

But are we all short sighted? Are we lacking in faith and trust in God’s mighty plan?

Most of the leaders we read about in history and in the Bible were not recognized in their lifetime…
Most them failed to see the results of their sacrifice and their struggle..
Yet there efforts were not in vain!

I pray this day that we all look hard upon our own lives and pray that God will give us the strength for the journey knowing full well that in the end we will see Him face to face and all will be made clear. All of our struggles, tears, and tribulations will be a part of a great tapestry that only upon the Mountain of Heaven will we gain the perspective to see the beauty of it all. God is painting a picture with our very lives and He is using all things for His good! Our job is to trust that even though our lives may seem to be falling apart, the great potter can simply pick us back up, and reshape our broken pieces into something more beautiful than our finite minds can ever comprehend.

God Bless,

Andy J. Starnes
Bringing Back Brotherhood Ministries

Talking About Suicide Can Help You Avoid It

Sometimes, the pain can be too much to bear. It feels like you don’t have any way out of the difficulties you’re facing, and it seems will only worsen over time. That’s why you started thinking about suicide.

 

But suicide isn’t the answer, and there is help. You can call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 800-273-TALK (or 800-273-8255), a local emergency room, or even just dial 911. You know that suicide isn’t the right choice, and these resources can help you realize why. Once you’ve made that call, you’re ready to learn about other ways to get help, the facts about suicide, and some long-term strategies to stay alive.
Image Source: Pixabay

You Can Get Help Right Now

Calling the Lifeline will put you in touch with people who can help. It’s completely free, and you can call anytime. You can also visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline site, where you will also get specific resources if you are a veteran, LGBTQA, or a teen.

 

Here are a few additional actions you can take to help yourself right now:

  • Put everything on hold. Promise yourself that you’ll wait two days before doing anything you can’t undo.
  • If your suicidal thoughts are strong, visit your nearest emergency room.
  • Reach out to family or friends that you trust. Tell them why you are feeling suicidal. Sometimes, just talking about your pain can help you manage it better.

Aren’t Suicidal Thoughts OK?

If you have some suicidal thoughts, do you really need to call or visit the ER? Isn’t it normal to have those thoughts?

It depends on what you mean by “normal.” Yes, many people think about suicide from time to time. In fact, studies show that a variety of mental health problems — depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and anxiety disorders — are all linked to suicide. However, thinking about harming yourself is not normal.

 

Psychology Today explains that suicidal thoughts are linked to worsening health, self-injury, and even death. In other words, you have to take these thoughts seriously. Even if many people have them, that’s not an excuse to downplay their severity and importance.

Long-Term Suicide Prevention Tips

Because studies link mental health problems to suicide, the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance has some great advice for long-term prevention. These include:

  • Stay social: Keep in touch with friends and family, and spend some time with both.
  • Avoid drugs and alcohol: Both can lead to uncontrolled impulses and depression.
  • Write down triggers and signs: Create a log of what situations make you feel suicidal and any signs showing that you’re feeling that way. Share this with people you trust.
  • Create a plan for life: Write down contact information for close friends, family, the local emergency room, and the national lifeline. This can be used in an emergency to save your life.
  • Get professional help: Seek out a therapist or counselor to help you navigate through the pain and problems causing the suicidal thoughts.

 

You also need to be wary of using alcohol and drugs. Even though those can dull the pain temporarily, you can develop a substance abuse problem and become addicted without realizing it. People who suffer from substance abuse addiction are more likely to cause self harm.

You Have The Right To Keep Living

You’ve heard before that suicide is not a solution. That’s completely correct, but knowing it doesn’t help. If you are currently having suicidal thoughts, call 800-273-TALK to get immediate help. Then work on a long-term solution to keep yourself alive, including getting some professional help. You deserve to live.

Jennifer Scott

Pride or Purpose? Which do you seek?

Amidst the greatest profession in the world lurks the greatest threat to its very existence…

It sneaks in ever so slowly, almost unnoticed…

It’s spoken of quite highly, written about, and is often the measurement of a firefighter’s passion…

 

It is a word, a word that has been twisted, and misused…

It is the word Pride!

 

Pride is used in phases such as:

 

“Take Pride in the craft”

“Pride and Ownership”

“Pride is what separates the hypocrite and the hero”

 

What is Pride?

 

“A deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements, the achievements of those with whom one is closely associated, or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired”

 

Pride can also be defined as…

 

“A feeling that you respect yourself and deserve to be respected by other people” (Merriam Webster).

 

This is the very pride that caused the Devil to fall from heaven…

He thought he could take the glory of God for his own…

In short, he thought more of himself than he ought…

 

The concern I have is not for those who have a passion for the calling known as a firefighter. My concern is for those whose sole purpose is to appear to be noble while only quietly seeking power and recognition. To rocket their way to the top without the blood, sweat, and tribulation that is paid to get there.

 

To wear trumpets on their collar, but speaking only empty words through them. Words without meaning because they have zeal but no depth.

 

They never took the time to earn the job as they were too busy pursuing the next promotion, the next article publication, the next conference engagement yet they failed to even make a difference in their own department. And they failed to make a difference in their own community. And most of all they failed to make a difference in their own family.

 

By all means, take pride in being a firefighter but for the sake of the fire service BE A Firefighter first. Do not spread slogans and inspirational quotes that lack understanding nor answers to those who seek to make a difference. Be the one you were called to be and lead not others down a path that will only lead to disappointment.

 

Our passion should be evident in all that we do…

We should hold their respect far before we hold any rank…

Our efforts should speak volumes that libraries could not contain…

Our skill sets should be constantly sharpened by the iron of accountability…

Our integrity should be one without question, that our enemies would seek us out for guidance.

Our words should be few and our actions should be representative of those who showed us the way…

Our goal should be to proclaim the message, live the mission, and not elevate ourselves: the messenger.

 

For in the end, one day image and accountability will have to meet…

May we not let our brothers & sisters down when fire rains down and we cower in defeat…

 

May your pride be evident, but may your life be consistent…

 

Andy Starnes

Bringing Back Brotherhood Ministries.

 

 

Balance in the Fire Life-Is it Possible?

I was blessed to have to the opportunity to share the message “Balance in the Fire Family Life-Is it Possible?” a webinar offered to the state of Indiana Fire Service. I have attached the PDF that was shared during the presentation.

If you would like to have this presentation given at your event, or your department, and/or broadcast live online. Please contact me:

Andy J. Starnes

Bringing Back Brotherhood Ministries

 

Balance In the Fire Family Life2

The Keynote Speech of Our Life

19225823_1925646161007666_6177263615512341650_nI recently had the blessing of listening to mentor and friend offer a keynote speech. Those of us in the fire service have probably heard many of these motivating speeches given by passionate fire service leaders but this one impacted me quite differently. What was the difference in this one versus all of the other powerful, motivating, and encouraging speeches I had heard before? The difference was this:

Relationship!

Let me explain, I witnessed my friend over the course of several days humbly and quietly interact with many people at this event. I witnessed him listen intently, have conversations with many different individuals from almost all of the parts of this event. If you are wondering why this speech struck me differently than all of the others I have heard, the reason is this: the speaker had no notes and to the untrained observer had not prepared for his speech, but that was far from the truth.

I learned something very valuable this day that can be applied to our lives. What the speaker did was something we should all be doing as leaders. He was a student of his audience. He carefully, intently, and compassionately was writing his speech over the course of the event leading up to this motivational keynote. During this speech, this is what made it so much more impactful: Rather than sharing a message with several points or key stories, he shared a message that was shared over the course of this event and he pointed to the individuals (the 1%’er’s) who are making a difference. He called them by name, he remembered and quoted key conversations that emphasized not just his message but the very message that was being shared throughout this event.

Thus, the lesson that was taught to me and that I share with you today is this: What great Keynote Speech are we preparing to give today?

* Are we listening intently to all of those around us? The greatest gift we can give those in our care is the gift of our full attention. Many of us (myself included) only listen with the intent to reply not with the intent to understand (as Dr. Steven Covey prescribes). If we would care enough to listen empathically, we may gain such wisdom and be able to share such powerful words of encouragement to others at those Key moments when they need it the most. For they will then listen to our words and hear their own words echoed back. They will realize that what they did and what they are doing truly matters because we cared enough to notice.

* The power of petition is truly based upon the depth of one’s relationship. One who stands in front of many to offer words of encouragement may hold their attention for a moment but one who looks upon their face and calls their name holds their respect for a lifetime. A leader who cares enough not to merely remember their speech but remember those that they are speaking to has found the way to impact the audience more than mere inspiration. A leader who cares enough to quote a moment of valued learning that occurred, share it with the audience, and connect it to the message they share has also connected everyone in the room. They have elevated the message and not the messenger.

* As we journey through life, we will be given many opportunities to speak but we should be careful to ensure our words are worthy of being heard. We must be analyzing our world and preparing our responses in our hearts long before they are placed upon a page or heard from a microphone. We can build others up in mere shallow words hat lack the depth of our devotion because they are mere slogans that are repeated by many -or- we can quote the very powerful moments of their lives and touch them with the message of encouragement that lives within them all. We can point out to them the very “Keynote” speeches that they have written for us to share with others. They have written our speech for us, it is our responsibility as leaders to share it.

Therefore, I ask of each of us: When the opportunity to give our “Keynote” arrives will we be ready? Will we have cared enough to listen? Will we have cared enough to understand? And will we know their greatest need not by a leadership book but by seeing their passion and connecting their hearts with their greatest need that only comes from caring enough to truly know them. Proverbs tells us that Wisdom comes in two ways: It is a God given gift and also the result of an energetic search. May we prepare our hearts today and know that the greatest inspiration we can receive comes from God and those He has placed in our care. He has given us the very words we need to speak by placing them in upon the hearts of those in our care.

May we all “build one another up daily” by caring enough to read the greatest words ever written: The stories that God has written upon our hearts.

God Bless,

Andy Starnes
Bringing Back Brotherhood Ministries

What Make’s Someone A Great Leader?

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What makes someone a great leader?

In leadership, we see examples (good and bad) of those who hold positions of great influence. If we were to break down the leaders we admire; what is it about them that makes us want to follow their example?

Here are my thoughts on those traits that define a significant leader:

#1) A solid moral foundation: It all begins with Integrity.
I believe that to be a successful and significant Leader that our motivations and mindset have to be pure. An intelligent leader who doesn’t have a solid moral foundation will ultimately fail the organization personally and or professionally. They will be manning the life boats alone while the entire organization goes down with the ship.

Consider this:

Anyone can learn to be competent in their profession but to be exemplary is to be the one standing up for truth, caring for others, and leading by example.

History has taught us that anyone who is placed in a position of authority but doesn’t have a solid moral foundation will ultimately compromise their principles, integrity, and values for money, power, and or fear. Don’t merely believe me; Take a look back at our history before we look forward.

#2) Servanthood:
In the fire service, our inner desire to serve others shows that we have a servant heart. As we step into the role of a leader, one must have a self-less focus where he or she is constantly about the business of knowing, caring for, and empowering those in their sphere of influence.

In order to lead, someone has to follow; therefore one has to command more than their respect. The greater the amount of passion and energy that a Leader pours into his/her people it has a direct correlation in how effective the crew will be.

#3) Setting the example (Consistency):
We must lead by example. Our consistent application of our values, work ethic, and our dedication to our crew is what sets us apart. This goes deeper than education. A Leader who has high expectations of his/her crew must first have the same expectations of themselves.

This position requires that we are pursuing the next level of excellence. There is never a point where one should be comfortable with their knowledge, skills, and abilities. If one has reached this point of complacency then it’s time to move on to another profession such as retirement.

#4) Humility:

Some of the greatest leaders that have impacted my life the ones that have admitted openly when they made a mistake. They made no excuse, they took responsibility for their actions, and they held themselves accountable. Those under a leader’s supervision will not believe in their leader if the leader does not hold himself/herself accountable as well.

#5) Mentoring:

In my opinion, one of the greatest disservices we do to our veteran leaders in the fire service is when they retire. We throw them a party and say goodbye. They have invaluable experience that has been forged by a lifetime of adversity, experience, and education. We should not let their priceless wisdom merely fade away; we should seek them out and learn from them.

As a Leader, you are ultimately responsible for what the future of the fire service will look like. Your goal should be to leave a mark on the organization and not just a memory. This can be only accomplished by “training your replacement”.

We should all be concerned about developing the next generation of leaders. One day they could be responding to our call for help. Are we equipping those around us for the future? Are we investing in those around us to ensure a brighter future?

Let’s consider these five traits and reflect upon there meaning in our own life. Are we investing in the future or merely impressing others for the moment?

God Bless,
Andy J. Starnes
Bringing Back Brotherhood Ministries

An Unwelcome Family Reunion

A gathering is occurring; one that many of us have had quite often…
It is one of sadness, yet we sit quietly, silently objecting their intruding presence…
Alone we sit at this table, yet we are not truly alone…
One by one, members of this family begin to return home…
We tearfully object to their presence yet still they come…
One by one, they arrive closing in around this singular family…
None of which are related but all have been brought into our life by tragedy & calamity…

This unwelcome family reunion consists of the following:
An elderly gentleman, who died at a family gathering…
A young girl, who failed to look both ways while crossing the street…
A teenage boy, whose pain in life was too much for him to live…
An infant lying helpless, still & lifeless, cold in a crib…
An old friend, which we failed to recognize the signs of a heartbroken soul…
A heartbroken mother, crying out as her car lost control…

These family members are scars upon our heartbroken soul…
They are the ghosts of those who haunt our mind that we seemingly can no longer control…
They are the ones that have somehow escaped the grip of the grave…
These are the memories of the people, in their last moments that we could not save…
Their last breath, their screams, and their torment are forever etched into our souls…
We have tried to for years to bury this heartache and pain…
Through unhealthy means, through drugs, and alcohol, yet they return again & again…

Until one day we sit alone but not alone with these family members from our moments past…
And we cry out as we are about to end our life and breathe our last…
Then in the stillness, a voice speaks to our hearts…

“These losses, their pain, they were never meant for you to carry from the start…”
“For grief is a process and the pain of a hurting heart isn’t meant to conceal…”
“But to own their tragedies is a burden that no one should ever feel…”
“My child, I have carried your burdens and I will carry all of these…”
“But you must first let go, forgive yourself, and give them to Me…”
“For all who are weary, overburdened, and who carry this post-traumatic stress…”
“Can come to Me, and I will heal the brokenhearted and give them rest…”

It is then, we, the rescuer look upon Him with our tear filled eyes…
To finally then see the presence of our Savior, who has answered our heart’s cry…
One by one, the ghosts of our tragedies past begin to gradually leave…
Although, they often try to break back in, we now know & believe…
Even though that we who have rescued others and saved those who have called…
Jesus is our one true Savior, the greatest Rescuer of all…

God Bless all those who have carried this pain for far too long. May God grant you the peace that your heart has sought for and the peace that comes from God’s Son.

God Bless,

Andy Starnes

Bringing Back Brotherhood Ministries.

There has to be more to life than this-And there is!

While reading the story of the prodigal son to our daughter I had to pause for a moment as I felt God speak to my heart. The story tells us the younger of two sons who tires of the harsh labor of farm life and goes to his father asking for his share of the inheritance now. The father is sad, yet grants his son’s request. 

The son goes and spends all that he has on wild living and is happy for a short time. Then his inheritance runs out and none of his ‘friends’ come to his aid as he is in desperate poverty.

He finds himself alone at the lowest point of his life he has ever been. And the scripture says “Then he came to himself.” This is the moment where he realizes what he had and what he gave up. 

Have you been there? 

Have you felt that moment where you realized that all you have done is not worth what you gave up to get there?  

This is a dark and sorrowful moment but THERE IS hope for the broken hearted:

“My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; 

A broken and contrite heart

You, God, will not despise.”

(Psalm 51:17)

As we read in the story, we can all draw a comparison to the prodigal son in that he realized what he had done.  

As I read this story, I noticed that as the son returns home to ask his father’s forgiveness his father sees him and races out to meet him. He doesn’t condemn him, He doesn’t ridicule him, and surprisingly he throws him a party to welcome him home. Because the Father knows the son’s heart. He knows that he not only is sorrowful for his past but has repented & turned away from what was wrong.

My friends, in life we are guilty of many things but what matters is the state of our hearts. God is patient with each of us and longs for us to “come to ourselves” and return home. 

He is ready to run out to meet you and has made a way home through His son Jesus Christ.  

2 Peter 3:9 says “The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. Instead He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

God is ready for us all to come home. He isn’t mad at us. He loves us and has proven it through the Jesus. I pray that wherever you are, when you come to yourself, realize that you can come home.

God is ready and waiting with open arms…

Andy Starnes 

Bringing Back Brotherhood Ministries 

The T-Shirt Firefighter & the Bumper Sticker Christian

double-oaks-2nd-alarm-full-view-1024x768 The T-Shirt Firefighter and the Bumper Sticker Christian

It is not uncommon to see a person wearing a T-shirt that indicates they are a firefighter. In many instances, the words or pictures on these T-shirts are not pleasant and are often proclaiming actions this individual isn’t living out. This often angers firefighters who take the craft of firefighting seriously. But what about our faith? Do we take it as seriously as our place in life as firefighters? What about those who wear T-shirts or bumper stickers claiming they are Christians but live a life that is contrary to what God’s word proclaims? Shouldn’t this cause us to pause and reflect on what’s more important?

Perhaps you have heard it said: “I’m not a Christian because they are all hypocrites.” Sadly, this is true for many of us. We claim a belief that we often fail to consistently live out causing more harm to Christianity by our poor examples.

“It is an extraordinary difficulty quality to fake. It is beautiful to see demonstrated in someone’s life. However, it is equally obvious when it is lacking. What is it? It is a healthy, consistent, and balanced faith” (Stephen Arterburn).

Stephen’s word’s ring true that it beautiful to see the love of Christ demonstrated consistently in someone’s life. This in fact, is a living Epistle of God’s handiwork written before the eyes of the world for all to see that God can save, God can transform, and God can do anything in anyone’s life if they will put their trust in Him.

Make no mistake, this is not a condemnation of those who strive to follow Christ and fall down as most of us do. This writing is for those who claim merely a title and not a relationship with Christ as many of us often fall into this trap. Their belief is only as deep as their devotion. How do I know this? Because this was my life until 2006 when I felt the weight of conviction. The conviction came from the Holy Spirit, showing me that I was leading others astray by claiming a belief that I didn’t truly have.

For firefighters, we often are angered or frustrated by those who claim to be firefighters but fail to consistently train, improve, or perform well when the call comes in. Yet, we who take such a calling so seriously, often fail to live out the values of our own faith. We find ourselves in an uncomfortable place of self-conviction as we stand in front of the mirror realizing it is we who have failed.

In our faith we often fail to live out our belief in the following examples:

We claim Christ, yet we compromise truth, condemn others, criticize, all instead of living out our faith in truth and love…

We claim o be good & dedicated parents; yet the hours we invest in our careers far outnumber the time we spend with our spouses and children…

We claim to love Jesus; yet we fail to consistently do what He says. (Luke 6:46 46 “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?”

We claim to be Christians, yet our finances prove we love our possessions more than our creator. Jesus counsels us on the dangers of loving riches more than God. One such example is the counseling of the rich young ruler in Luke 18:22-23 “So when Jesus heard these things, He said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me. But when he heard this, he became very sorrowful, for he was very rich.”

We claim to be witnesses of the Gospel, yet we share more gossip & slander than the Good News. This can be seen in our lives where we pray for someone on Sunday and then gossip among ourselves about their concern during the week. We have to remember that when others allow us the privilege to pray for their private concerns that this isn’t an opportunity for us to gossip; it is an opportunity to intercede and strengthen our own prayer life.

We claim to be saved from our sins; yet our lives reveal a different story of lust, foul language, lies, adultery and more. For myself, the hypocrisy of living a double life was a weight that I could no longer bear. I lived a very rough and perverse life while at work and then would attempt to be the good “godly” man at home. God began to convict me of this and has been slowly hammering away my old behaviors, habits, and things that kept me from being close to Him.

James reminds us that if we claim something our actions will ultimately reveal our hearts:

“What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them?” (James 2:14).
Jesus reminds us that if we know Him, love Him, and remain in Him our lives will be living proof of our belief: publicly and privately.
“No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit” (Luke 6:43:44).

In closing, we who claim to know Christ out to be living lives that reflect the depth of our relationship. Therefore, we should all be investing more into our time with Jesus so that when we wake up to face the world that they would see Him in us. Otherwise, if we say we love Jesus yet we act like the secular world we may hear Jesus’ words:

“Why do you call Me Lord, Lord and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46)

May we all take the time to strengthen our relationship with the One who loves us so much that “He gave His only begotten Son so that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16b).
God bless,

Andy J. Starnes

Raising Our Children Well

Raising Our Children Well:

The greatest lesson I have received in accountability and responsibility has been through the blessing of parenthood. God has shown me so much and continues to do so even through the eyes of a child. I have received my daily devotion while reading my daughter a children’s bible story. I have felt the weight of my own sin when my daughter has looked upon me when I have done wrong. I have realized that God is close to children in such a way that their faith is often far greater than any of the greatest theologians. I have realized that in order to do the right thing, to follow God, to obey His word is worth it and it comes at a great cost: personally, politically, and professionally.

Yet through all this I have seen the glory of heaven and God’s grace through the eyes of our child. I have realized the error of my own ways and even though there are many who don’t believe the way that I do; I soldier on knowing that God died for me: a lowly sinner. And if He would die for me & change my life then He can do the same in anyone’s life no matter their circumstances.

“The first step to correcting any error is repentance. Unless we are willing to say ‘I was wrong’, we will never know how to follow His right” (Ravi Zacharias).

The greatest privilege God has bestowed upon our marriage is one of parenting. From the moment I began to pray about having a family, to our prayers together, to the moment we found out, and to the moment we held our precious miracle: “Emma Caroline Starnes” has been covered in prayer.

God’s word reminds us that we are to be examples of “The Way” to our children. We must be diligent in continually seeking a closer walk with Jesus “lest you forget the things you have seen.”

“Only take heed to yourself, & diligently keep yourself lest you forget the things your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. And teach them to your children & grandchildren especially the day you stood before the Lord your God in Horeb…”(Deuteronomy 4:9).

In this particular scripture, Moses is commanding & instructing God’s people on obedience. We should not forget what God has done for us. The Israelite’s were rescued from slavery, led through the Red sea, fed manna from heaven but yet they rebelled. If we look closely at our own lives, we are not any different. God has blessed us in countless ways, saved us from our sin, and yet we often grumble, complain, and walk away from God. And then we try to justify our sin as the Israelite’s did.

In the midst of our journey through our own wilderness, we need to realize the great responsibility placed upon us. We are teaching, influencing, and molding the next generation which are our children. They are watching our every move, our every word, and more importantly they are watching when we fail.

The things we have seen, our experiences, our failures, and how God has brought us through it all are a part of our story. They are all part of our testimony. We should tell our children God’s story, our story, and how God saved us from our sin. They need to know that we are fallen creatures as well and that through God there is hope in Jesus Christ. They need to see, feel, and touch our Christianity. Our love for God cannot be in proclamation only but it must be present in all aspects of our lives.

For “the righteous man walks in his integrity; his children are blessed after him” (Proverbs 20:7). To live a righteous life, is to always remember that we were bought with a price. To remember that “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). God has paid the ultimate price for our redemption. It is up to us live a life that is worthy of such a gift.

Our children need to know that sin has lost the battle and this world cannot justify our bad behaviors when we kneel before the Almighty. Only the blood of Jesus Christ saves us, redeems us, and transforms us. May we accept the challenge to be transformed and show the world that Jesus Christ lives and reigns in us.

God Bless,
Andy J. Starnes